Fire Protection Technicians are responsible for identifying potential fire hazards in buildings (homes, workplaces, commercial settings, etc.) and putting proper safeguards in place to avoid them. They are usually employed by state and local firefighting units. Many also take up private positions with insurance companies or manufacturing organizations that prepare and install fire alarms, sprinkler mechanisms and extinguishers.
The day-to-day role of a Fire Protection Technician involves conducting building evaluations to ensure compliance with the fire code, installing fire safety systems and using advanced modeling software to analyze fire risk. If you are interested in joining this profession in America, then this piece is for you. Read on to understand the steps you need to take to achieve your goal.
As a Fire Protection Technician, you will learn how to assess building blueprints as well as existing structures to identify combustion factors and potential fire hazards, ensure compliance with building and fire codes, and put an emergency protocol in place. You may also be invited to deliver lectures to building companies and civil society groups on fire safety.
The table below includes information about the salary, education/training requirements and career outlook for Fire Protection Technicians. All the data has been taken from the 2019 records of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Sources: US Bureau of Labor Statistics and O*Net Online
Career Outlook for Fire Protection Technicians
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 5% increase in employment opportunities for Health and Safety Engineers between 2018 and 2028. So, the future is encouraging and this is a good time to enter this field. Some states will have more opportunities and better pay packages than others.
In 2019, Texas had the most Health and Safety Engineers (3,700) in the country. It was followed by California and New York with 2,190 and 1,760 employed professionals respectively. Furthermore, the District of Columbia had the highest annual mean wage at $122,170. New Mexico ($117,310) and California ($113,380) offered the second and third-best compensation packages respectively.
Steps to Become a Fire Protection Technician
The following steps will help you become a Fire Protection Technician in the US.
Step 1: Acquire the Needed Education
In most cases, you will need just a High School Diploma or the equivalent GED (General Educational Development) Certificate to enter the field. Some employers may demand higher qualifications such as a Fire Science Certificate, Associate Degree in Fire Science, etc. Even if it is not needed, having a higher level of professional education in the field will certainly help over the course of your career.
Step 2: Volunteer as a Firefighter and Undergo Training
Most Fire Protection Technicians start off as paid or volunteer firefighters. In this capacity, they enroll for basic fire science training at their local/state fire academy and apply for employment with the fire department upon graduating. While testing for a role with the fire department, you will have to clear a physical exam, drugs test and detailed background investigation. You may also enroll directly in a fire protection technician training program.
Step 3: Apply for Work and Gain Experience
Once you are done with fire protection technician training, you can start looking for work. Most professionals in the field tend to work with their local/state fire department for a number of years before switching to the private sector.
Step 4: Continuing Education and Certification(s)
As you continue working, there will be opportunities to enhance your skills through professional certifications and continuing education programs. You can transition into a fire engineering or fire management role by transferring your fire protection technician training credits to a post-graduate fire science or a 4-year fire engineering degree program.
There are also professional certifications offered by different organizations. The most popular for Fire Protection Technicians is the Certified Fire Protection Specialist (CFPS) credential offered by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).